Beauty and the beast
Velar is much more expensive, partially since it is an import while the F-Pace is currently assembled here
It appears that at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Ian Callum, Jaguar’s design honcho and Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s design chief had a little competition to see who could design the most attractive Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). Callum came up with the pretty as a peach F-Pace, which is a truly attractive car. McGovern has designed the Range Rover Velar, which is, in a word, stunning. Seriously, if you asked me to choose between these two cars when it came to looks, I could not give an answer. I mean they are slightly different and each of them uses their brand’s design heritage, but if I had both of these parked in a garage and had to choose which one to drive, it would be quite difficult.
Both of them clearly pass what I call the “schoolboy test,” which is when you drive past a schoolbus, do the boys inside stare at the car? But the reason I would probably choose the Velar, right now, is because of its interiors.
But before I carry on, there is a more metaphysical question I want to answer, can an ordinary set of wheels ruin a good-looking car? The answer is yes. Both the Velar and F-pace are beautiful-looking vehicles but the standard equipment on the Press fleet cars have wheels that look horribly out of place. Given that cars like the Hyundai Verna and Suzuki Swift come with machined alloy wheels nowadays, this is just wrong. Wheels on expensive imports can cost a pretty penny, and while I am no fan of chrome-plated wheels which tend to be far too excessive, classy looking cars need classy wheels. This is like wearing a Saville Row bespoke suit with a cheap plastic strap watch. I mean, this car has wonderful door handles that are flush with the bodywork for god’s sake.
Back to the Velar though. The car I was driving was the P250 SE specification. This has a turbocharged two litre petrol engine that produces just under 250 horsepower, which despite the close to two tonnes the car weighs can make it move fast. And the Velar, by virtue of being a rhinoceros compared to its more elephantine bigger brother, can start going plenty fast and you would not want one of these charging you down either. But with the bright matrix-LED headlights, believe me, everybody will know that you are on your way, especially in the evenings. The SE and HSE specification cars both come with the Matrix-LED headlights.
How does the Velar handle? Very similarly to the F-Pace actually. And why wouldn’t it? The two vehicles share the same aluminium body structure, the same wheelbase and while the F-Pace does not have Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, if you were to go off the beaten track, you would not take an F-Pace on such roads. But on the highway or city roads on regular driving conditions, the F-Pace is the slightly better car to drive, if not for anything else because of the “feel” since you sit lower in one. The F-Pace in India, oddly, does not come with either a petrol engine option, nor does it come with the D300, the close to 300 horsepower diesel engine option, only the Velar does.
And the Velar is so much more expensive, partially since it is an import while the F-Pace is currently assembled here. Other than the base specification levels, the SE and HSE specifications of the Velar are wonderfully feature-loaded. Sure, widescreen digital displays aren’t unique or fancy anymore but the Velar has not only that but twin touchscreen digital displays on the central console. While this is a bit of a duplication, as you can show the same thing on both screens, I did find it handy to have a map on the top screen and media information on the lower screen. With JLR having taken what I call the “Volvo Route” or removing most “hard” buttons, the lower screen also functions as the screen from where you control the air-conditioning, terrain-response and other vehicular features. Quite neat indeed and definitely geek-worthy.
The thing about such heavy-geekiness is that the Velar is undoubtedly a car that you should drive yourself. And when you think about a car, which as tested costs `87.5 lakh — the base 177hp Velar starts at `81 lakhs, the top-of-the-line D300 First Edition ` 1.41 crore, making it almost as expensive as the 4.4 litre diesel Range Rover Sport which is a bigger and more powerful car — you can easily afford a driver.
Even with the driver aids and the fact that this isn’t half as huge as a Range Rover, it still takes finely honed parking skills to park this. But if you are a techno-geek who likes cars, like driving and have made a few tens of crores from selling your start-up, this is the car for you. But buy this before you look at the Land Rover price list and get thoroughly confused.
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